The River: The Opposite of Trying to Gain Control of a Life That Flows.

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The River: The Opposite of Trying to Gain Control of a Life That Flows.

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The flow is its own secret, unguarded and unfathomable.

By Andrew Peers

I would love to live
like a river flows,
carried by the surprise
of its own unfolding.

John O’Donohue
(Unfinished Poem)

Slipping out of the fringe—even the anti-clerical movement of Christian monastic desert tradition, and simultaneously peeling off from two non-religious Buddhist groups—I launched myself into the “real world” a few years ago.

I met with some limited success and had settled down into the 9 to 5 routine when the pace changed again, and the horizon widened.

One Autumn day, a casual comment to two men discussing religion at a British Home Store cafeteria in Ireland marked the beginning of a friendship with one of them. It also marked the first inklings of a new way of viewing—and therefore thinking—about the world.

I spent the following years pondering the simple metaphysics involved and testing them in every practical and domestic situation. While the principles soaked deeper into my understanding, the living reality they revealed clarified my vision. As the poet O’Donohue writes in another place:

“When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see.”

It’s the exact opposite of trying to gain control of a life which rather flows, as the above quotes so beautifully suggest, like a river, “surprised by its own unfolding.” A river that continually meets itself in everything and everybody.

In my case, it wandered all over the place; finding its way through antisocial and aggressive behavior, differing philosophies and training, religious dialogues and radical lifestyles.

From the outside, this must have looked a lot like inconsistency, or even craziness; but my subjective experience was always one of being carried along in a straight line and occasionally getting stuck in an eddy.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to write a thin string of articles and collected some of them into a book. They all merely serve as snapshots of the surrounding landscape at any one moment on the journey.

They are landmarks on the way and not meant as definitive statements. They’re sketches of progression and insight into the development of a personal and unique spirituality as then understood. They’re scraps of information, like the measurements for fitting a suit.

The suit probably won’t fit anyone else and most won’t even notice the weave as anything special. Yet the principles involved in making it are universal, and therefore shareable.

An embarrassed gratitude fills me at the glimpses these stammering words afford. They catch sight of a fiery longing in their flow.

The wandering river slows down in time and naturally gets broader as it finds lush meadows in the valley. It has long since ceased to be a babbling brook or a roaring stream. Now it is quiet and surer of its course even while still not knowing exactly where it’s going or what fortune it will meet with.

Yet there is no sense of having to prove anything or capture something in order to find fulfillment. The flow is its own secret, unguarded and unfathomable.

And as the unfolding continues aimlessly, at last, a boundless sea is entered.

 

Photo: Derivation of The River/Flickr

Editor: John Author

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Andrew "Dru" Peers is Anglo-Irish and spent over 20 years in Trappist monasteries in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. In 2011, he left the Order, traveling to the home of Celtic Buddhism in America and returned to Europe to work as a meditation teacher, combining this work with a passion for writing. Check out his website and online school for more information. You can also read more in his recently published book, The Family Jewels: Letters on Zen Koan by a Trappist Monk.
By | 2016-11-20T11:37:09+00:00 November 19th, 2016|blog, Buddhism, Empower Me, Featured|0 Comments

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